(NECN: Alysha Palumbo - Boston ) - A third human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, has been confirmed in Massachusetts - this time in a girl under the age of 18 who was diagnosed earlier this month and is currently hospitalized.
Kevin Cranston, the Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said, "This is a young woman who lives in a community near the boundary between Franklin and Worcester counties."
Communities on the border of those two counties where the mosquito bite may have occurred - Athol, Orange, and Royalston - have been raised to a critical threat level, while surrounding communities have been elevated to a high threat level.
After the death of 79-year-old Ben Duce of Westboro and diagnosis of another man in southeastern Mass, health officials warn to take this threat seriously.
Cranston said, "This is such a serious infection that a large percentage of people who acquire it do die of their infection and many others have permanent neurological damage, you do not want to get this infection."
Residents say the disease is concerning.
Yousef Athamni of Cape Cod said, "I have five little kids that they all play outside and it can affect them."
"It's certainly a scary thing because of the severity of the illness," said Paul Trifiletti of Cambridge, Mass., "my understanding is it goes in cycles, so it's not really possible to completely prevent it."
Cranston says there are a lot of factors that could have made this season particularly bad.
"We had an unusual winter last year without a hard freeze and that may have enabled some mosquito species to over winter their eggs or their larvae over winter," said Cranston, "and may have created an abundance in the early part of the season."
Cranston says we also had a very hot summer which may have shrunk the water supplies where infected mosquitos and birds exchange the virus.
Cranston said, "There's a cycle of amplification of the virus where the mosquitos bite the birds who get infected and then other mosquitos bite those birds and they get infected."